About a week ago, we published some stories about caving and its risks. I ended up going to Alabaster Caverns State Park and talking to two people who work there. I’ll be sure to post some links to that story just in case you all didn’t see it.
But more importantly, I learned some interesting things about the park. So if you’re curious about the caves there and would like to check it out, maybe I can give you a couple of things to think about as you head up there.
First of all, this is one small park. There are farms in Oklahoma County that are bigger than Alabaster’s 200 acres. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in experiences to be had.
The park’s namesake and star attraction is its cave system. These gypsum caves offer a subterranean experience for just about anyone. Those wanting a casual stroll inside can go on guided tours through the main cave.
Others wanting a more adventurous experience can try “wild caving,” essentially self-guided caving through the park’s four lesser caves. Those wanting to go wild caving need to register with the park, pay a fee ($5 per person) and be in groups of at least three people. There are a number of equipment and clothing requirements to be met before anyone is allowed to go caving in the wild caves.
In talking with Tandy Keenan, the park’s naturalist, she told me that Alabaster Caverns State Park is a good place for beginners. The caves are relatively small (500 to 1,600 feet), rarely have water in them and do not require technical climbing/caving skills. People who go in them will get muddy, however, and there are some tight spaces to wriggle through. So if you’re not into confined spaces and darkness, maybe wild caving isn’t for you.
Caving can be done between April 1 and Sept. 30.
Aside from caving and cave tours, Alabaster Caverns is well known for its wildlife. Which in this case, we’re talking about bats.
Several species of bats call the caves home, and many more use the caves as a place to roost during their migrations.
The park has spaces for tent and RV camping, showers, restrooms, a playground and a volleyball court, among other amenities. Hiking trails are also available.
When I was there, the park was doing guided tours for families and a YMCA day camp. In terms of sparking kids’ imaginations, this park may be one of the better places in the state to do that.
Alabaster Caverns State Park is near Freedom in northwest Oklahoma.
Some links about the park:
And some more about wild caving: